Bengaluru Buzz: No to anti-conversion | Anna Bhagya paused, Shakti scheme popular … and more

Other news of the week: Textbooks to be revised again, waterlogging in East Bengaluru, and Private medical college fees not upgraded.

Repeal of anti-conversion law, textbook revision

The state will repeal the amendments passed by the earlier government regarding the anti-conversion law, during the upcoming assembly session, starting July 5th, said the Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister, H K Patil.

The government will also form a committee to fully revise school textbooks next year, said Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, in a meeting with Jnanpith awardee, Chandrashekar Kambar. It aims to remove some ‘controversial’ chapters from Social Sciences and Kannada, including RSS founder K B Hedgewar, Bannanje Govindacharya and Chakravarthy Sulibele. They will be replaced by chapters recommended by the Baraguru Ramachandrappa textbook revision committee. It will add chapters on social reformer and educator Savitribai Phule, Nehru’s letters to Indira Gandhi and poetry on Ambedkar. Soon, a government order will be announced and booklets distributed, including clarifications. Schools will be directed to not teach or include the dropped chapters during examinations.

Source: Indian Express

Anna Bhagya paused, Shakti scheme is a hit

Just before the July 1st launch of the Anna Bhagya scheme, under which BPL (below-poverty-line) families are likely to get 10kgs of foodgrains, CM Siddaramaiah charged the Union government of stymying his foodgrains scheme. The Centre had told the Food Corporation of India (FCI) not to sell rice to the state.

On June 11th, the first day of the Shakti scheme that offered women passengers free travel in non-premium, state–run Road Transport Corporations (RTCs), the estimated target of beneficiaries was around 41.34 lakh passengers. It cost the state exchequer Rs 8.84 crore and is expected to reach at least Rs 3,400 crore annually, according to official sources.

Transport Minister Ramalinga Reddy said that if more women passengers are using RTC buses, the fleet size too will be increased. However, after the smart passes are issued, the number may come down. The four transport corporations have planned to add 1,894 buses this year. But as many are complaining about gaps in rural service, there are plans to improve the bus services to rural areas too. On the second day of the Shakti scheme, there were mixed reactions, with some pleased and others concerned. But the footfall had increased.

Meanwhile, private bus drivers and owners are worried that they have lost customers and their livelihood will be affected by the Shakti scheme. The finance department informed the transport corporations, including Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC) and Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) that they will not get additional grants for fuel or payment of increased salaries of employees.

Source: The Times of India, The Hindu, Deccan Herald, Indian Express

Read more: Here’s how you can access the five guarantees promised by the new Karnataka government

Gruha Jyothi: Users irate over high bills

The registration for the Gruha Jyothi scheme, which offers free electricity of up to 200 units, is postponed from June 15th to June 18th. This has been done to fortify the app and the Seva Sindhu portal, with a special custom page. Applicants can register through their phones, laptops, computers, Bangalore One, Karnataka One or Grama One centres. The Energy department will get about 5-10 lakh applications every day.

However, many citizens who received their electricity bill this month were shocked to notice a significant increase in the tariff. The unusually high bills was due to the electricity regulatory commission approving a 70-paise tariff rise and allowing FPPCA (fuel and power purchase cost adjustment) charges to be levied from July to December. There was a sharp hike in electricity bills in June, even though the consumption pattern was the same as in the earlier months. Some complained that the rise was almost 50%, while a few said that their bills had nearly doubled.

Bescom defended the increase, pointing out that it was part of the approved revision by the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) and they were collecting arrears.

Many are also worried about the irregular power billing that includes excessive charges, non-receipt of bills, and negative billing by authorities. Those who were supposed to get their bills before the 10th of the month are concerned over the delay and the higher charges. But Bescom sources said the delay was due to a technical glitch.

Source: The Hindu, Deccan Herald, Indian Express

Waterlogging in East Bengaluru

Various state agencies were asked to coordinate and prevent incidents during the monsoon. In a meeting chaired by the additional chief secretary of the Urban Development Department (UDD) administrator of the Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP), the heads of city police, BBMP, Bangalore Electricity Company, Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board and the Bangalore Metro Rail Corporation Limited pooled their ideas.
BBMP meeting with various agencies to fight monsoon woes. Pic: Twitter/BBMPCOMM

Heavy rains on June 11th wreaked havoc in many areas, such as BTM, Hulimavu, Bannerghatta, Marathahalli, Mahadevapura and Outer Ring Road, leading to severe waterlogging and traffic snarls. Varthur, Bellandur, and Halanayakanahalli lakes also overflowed. The IMD (India Meteorological Department) said that on June 11th, there were 21 mms of rainfall.

Varthur Lake is encroached by stormwater drains. Drains that were supposed to be 60 feet wide have been reduced to 15 feet, against the National Green Tribunal norms.

Source: Indian Express

Read more: Saga of waterlogging on Outer Ring Road

Pvt medical college fees not upgraded

The National Medical Commission (NMC) has issued a directive to fix the fees for 50% of the seats in private medical colleges and deemed-to-be-universities on par with government seats. But it is yet to be implemented in the state, in spite of multiple recommendations by the Fee Regulatory Committee for Professional Colleges. It has recommended that the government should adopt the proposals in all private medical colleges and deemed-to-be-universities from 2023-24.

Source: The Hindu

[Compiled by Revathi Siva Kumar]

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